The Passage Chicken – Adìyẹ Ìrànà (Yinka Odumakin)

By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju

Carry him carefully
Let the gods make him light as quill feather
Let the feathers of the Passage Chicken” sweep his path
His Adìyẹ Ìrànà today, whose Adìyẹ Ìrànà tomorrow?
Another elephant that shakes the forest kìjikìji has fallen!
Ọfẹ! Ọfẹrẹgẹ̀gẹ̀!!
Adìyẹ Ìrànà!!!

I sauntered in, making my way through young boys around the swimming pool at the Tango Towers in Ikoyi. Big Sheg (as we fondly call Chief Segun Odegbami also known as Mathematical) had invited me to the birthday of his son. My chaperone led me into the inner room where the “Big Boys” were seated. Yinka was the first to see me. ” Teju! Aha! God brought you into my orbit today, what did I do to you, to warrant such an attack on my person? Have I ever offended you personally? Have I ever insulted you? Should we forget that we are friends due to political differences?”… I was flustered and I responded. Calm down my friend! Are you trying to ridicule me in front of these gentlemen or are you trying to unsettle me? I pulled a chair and moved to introduce myself and shake the man seated to my left. The man stood up, gave a reassuring smile and said; “we know you, your reputation precedes you.” The ice was broken. Immediately, Yinka asked me what I wanted, stood up to put in my order, as if nothing happened a few minutes before. Throughout the evening, he pampered me silly. He was pouring me champagne until I reminded him, I would be driving myself home. We chatted and discussed Lagos and national politics till very late. When it was time to leave, he ordered me small chops, smoked turkey and grilled fish. He hung my purse on his shoulder and saw to me to car, along with five others. That was Yinka. He lets it out and it ends there. In the heat of the 2015 elections, we were in opposing camps. I had accused him in one of my writings of selling out and taking money from President Jonathan.

Beyond the fiery rhetorics and unsparing political pugilism, Yinka is undoubtedly a patriot and a man devoted to the cause of the Yoruba. He was loyal to his friends, respectful and very caring. He was always willing to help in any way he could. In 2014, I was to pick up Pius Adesanmi up at the airport. When Pius told him, he told Pius he should not have bothered me because I lived farther away. On arrival, Pius met him at the arrival hall waiting. Minutes later, I was advised to make a detour to the hotel. Hurriedly, I called Lanre Oyenuga to organize Àmàlà for the four of us. We sat there for hours having good banter on Politics and Pius’s plan for the 60th birthday lecture of Pastor Tunde Bakare.

He called me ‘Teju. I corrected him many times. When he stuck to that, I gave up! Since we made up in 2018, we have worked together behind the scenes. Wherever he was and my name was mentioned, Yinka would brag that’ Teju is my sister. He would call and put me on speaker and ask me to talk to this and that person. Before Covid hit, we were at a friend’s blue jeans birthday party together where we all danced like teenagers again. Our “settlement” thought me to separate politics and persons. I learnt not to get too emotionally involved as to ruin current and future relationships. Politics is about interests and interests often converge. Early February, we collaborated on an ongoing initiative for our region.

Yinka’s politics was different. Even if one does not like his politics, no one can discount his profundity. He was the nodus of the Yoruba sociopolitical elite. He was an undeniable voice and he allowed nothing to obnubilate his beliefs and position on Yoruba issues.

Journey well, Yinka Odumakin, you fought many hard battles on many fronts. You won many. Your death is not a surrender nor is it a defeat. It is Adìyẹ Ìrànà. May your creator be pleased with you and you go back from whence you came. You paid your debt. We will pay ours.

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